Monday, 21 February 2011
On Thursday night, post work, Mum, Dad and I jump in the car, drive to Nottingham. We arrive late, venture out for dinner. It is dark and cold, damp, and the streets seem to be full of packs of men, some possibly students, some not, drunk and loud and vaguely intimidating at worst, simply unpleasant at best. But on Friday, still grey and cold, we explore the city, and I find much to like. The Nottingham Contemporary an amazing gallery, the purpose of our visit - Dad, an architect, wants to see the building - concrete and modern but imprinted with the pattern of Nottingham lace. I like the contrast. The exhibitions are good, Anne Collier's photographs, Jack Goldstein's installations and acrylics. Tucked away in a small room, we stumble upon John Newling's Miracle Trees, find the artist himself there, tending the saplings, start talking to him. I am hooked, fascinated by this amazing plant that I have never before heard of, that has huge nutritional value, is able to purify water and possesses medicinal qualities. We have lunch at Delilah's, a deli near the gallery, goat's cheese, honey and pecan nut sandwich, a choice of bread. Rows and rows of jars, jams and spreads, olives, fresh meat, cheese, baked goods, friendly staff. My kind of place. Tea and something sweet in The Walk Cafe, exotic tea blends (I have Nosy Be, because of the Madagascar connection, black tea with peach and vanilla, divinely scented) huge slices of sponge, light as a feather, glorious golden yellow in colour. Lemon sponge for Mum, blueberry sponge for me, and Dad has the carrot cake. The china is mostly floral and mismatched, and again I feel at home. Later we explore the vintage shops (including here and here) and charity shops, I buy a few things, lust after others, lots of great stuff on offer, and much cheaper than in London. In the evening we eat at The Larder on Goosegate in the original Boots the chemist, wonderful atmosphere, all candlelight and chandeliers dripping with cut glass, fans beating lazily up above. I eat a vegetarian Shepherd's Pie, brown lentils topped with cheesy mash, perfect to ward off the cold outside. It is the Nottingham Light Night, a festival of light installations across the city, and we stumble across a few of these, my favourite being a human jukebox in an old trailer. True Grit at the cinema, which I enjoy, but am not blown away by. Saturday we drive back South via Melton Mowbray, the pork pies for which it is famous go unappreciated by this family of vegetarians, but the charity shops are good and there are fat bunches of red tulips for £1 each at the market which is packing up for the day. I buy two bunches, fill a jug with them when I return home. Sunday I breakfast on grapefruit, hit the Clerkenwell Vintage Fashion Fair again with Anna, then retreat indoors again, away from the drizzle and the seemingly constant grey, chop onions and measure out spices for Dal, let its turmeric dyed depths putter away on the hob as I get into my pyjamas, pull on a cardigan, tuck myself away from the February night.